Open Storefronts

Overview

The Open Storefronts program assists existing ground-floor storefront businesses who want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis. The program allows eligible businesses to conduct activity on sidewalks, on roadways in the Open Streets: Restaurants program, or a combination of both. In addition to businesses engaged in retail trade, repair stores, personal care services, and dry-cleaning and laundry services are able to use outdoor space for seating, queuing, or display of dry goods. For a list of eligible retail activities, please visit Open Storefronts FAQ 2.

The Open Storefronts program is available October 30 to December 31, 2020.

Open Storefronts Siting Requirements

DRAFT diagram to show outdoor dining specifications for sidewalk seating and curbside seating at an Open Restaurant

Siting Criteria for Sidewalks

  • Objects placed on sidewalk must be up against the wall of the business or as close as possible
  • Sidewalk objects and activities may not exceed business frontage
  • Must leave an 8' clear path for pedestrians. Eligible businesses who can currently display merchandise as-of-right or with a stoopline stand license can continue to do so under existing regulations and do not need to certify under Open Storefronts for the existing eligible merchandise
  • Must conduct eligible activities and place outdoor objects no more than 5’ from the property line (i.e. from external facing wall of the business)
  • Outdoor objects must be at least 3' from the adjacent restaurants, or 1’ away from other businesses participating in the Open Storefronts program
  • Outdoor objects and goods cannot block subway grates, fire hydrants, utility hardware, Siamese water connection, bus stop waiting areas, subway entrances, and fire exits. Vault entrances not exclusively accessible by the business can only be blocked in coordination with other tenants. Objects cannot block doors, including entry and exit doors to other spaces, and cannot block driveways or garage entrances unless they are used exclusively by the business participating in the Open Storefronts program
  • For clear path purposes, parking meters, traffic signs and tree pits with flush gratings (without tree guards) are exempt. All other above-grade structures are considered obstructions
  • Merchandise placed outside cannot exceed 5' in height above the level of the sidewalk
  • Collapsible tents and umbrellas with weighted base must have at least two (2) sides open and must be installed per manufacturer’s instructions. A single area or area of combined / tied together tents and umbrellas should not exceed 400 square feet in size
  • Tents and umbrellas should not be used during inclement weather such as high wind condition. Sign up for DOB’s Weather Advisory Subscription.
  • Outdoor objects and goods, including tents and umbrellas, must be provided by applicant and must be removed from the sidewalk when a business is closed, excluding stoopline stands (in line with current regulation). Permanent structures cannot be built or placed on the sidewalk
  • Hours of operation will be normal business hours

Siting Criteria for Eligible Businesses on Open Streets: Restaurants Corridors

  • Applicant must provide emergency lane of 15’. Where this is not possible on a given roadway, organizations must get approval from NYC DOT and FDNY to ensure emergency access at all times
  • Eligible businesses may conduct eligible activities on roadway up to the 15’ emergency lane for the duration of the temporary street closure
  • Bike lanes may be included in the 15’ designated emergency lane
  • Roadway objects must be sited at least 15’ from a hydrant and 8’ from a crosswalk
  • Roadway objects may not be placed beyond width of business frontage
  • Individual businesses must delineate their footprint with some type of barrier element, although these must be removed at the end of each day
  • Outdoor objects and goods must be provided by applicant and must be removed from the expanded zone at the end of each day
  • Merchandise placed outside cannot exceed 5' in height above the level of the sidewalk
  • Hours of operation will be normal business hours unless they exceed Open Streets: Restaurants limitations, in which case those limitations will apply
  • Collapsible tents and umbrellas with weighted base must have at least 2 sides open and must be installed per manufacturer’s instructions. A single area or area of combined / tied together tents or umbrellas should not exceed 400 square feet in size
  • Tents and umbrellas should not be used during inclement weather such as high wind condition. Sign up for DOB’s Weather Advisory Subscription.
  • Other than barriers, permanent structures cannot be built or placed on the roadway

Apply Online

NYC is allowing businesses to self-certify that they meet program requirements.

Submitting an application is an acknowledgement that the establishment understands and agrees to all applicable terms and conditions and all applicable laws and guidance. If an establishment is not compliant, the City may revoke or suspend its authorization at any time during the program period.

NYC DOT may immediately revise, terminate or suspend, for a period of time and without prior notice, the outdoor area usage based on valid complaints, lack of ADA access, need for repairs, or for any other reason.

>>Open Storefronts Information & Application

*Groups of three (3) or more businesses on at least one single block, may join together to apply. Please visit Open Streets: Restaurants for more information and the group application.

For help completing the application or for translation assistance, please call the SBS Hotline: 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692).

Next Steps

Businesses that self-certified will receive an email from the City authorizing outdoor retail on the City’s sidewalk and/or roadway in front of the establishment, in accordance with all applicable terms and conditions, laws and guidance. Businesses should print and prominently display their Open Storefronts email confirmation.

Open Storefronts FAQ

Updated November 10, 2020

Download the Open Storefronts FAQ in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish or Urdu (pdfs).

Who is eligible to apply for Open Storefronts?

Any ground floor storefront business predominantly involved in the sale of goods directly to the public. In addition to businesses engaged in retail trade (i.e. clothing and equipment stores, retail food stores, health and personal care stores), repair stores, personal care services, and dry-cleaning and laundry services are able to use the space for seating, queuing, or dry good display.

A “ground floor storefront” business is a business which is directly accessible from the street and has store frontage on the sidewalk.

What activities are / are not allowed in the Open Storefronts program?

  • May erect temporary signage (i.e. A-frames), display goods, complete transactions, place seating and ropes/stanchions, conduct promotional activities, and place collapsible umbrellas and tents in eligible sidewalk areas and in roadway areas as part of Open Streets: Restaurants
  • May not place heaters in outdoor areas
  • May sell only dry goods outdoors, excluding items prohibited from outdoor sale (i.e. liquor, cigarettes/tobacco/e-cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, adult content)
  • May not conduct personal services (i.e. haircuts, cosmetology) outdoors
  • May only sell goods outdoors that a business is already licensed to sell indoors, or do not need a new license to sell
  • Must abide by all existing permits and regulations that relate to product display and sales
  • May allow for outdoor drop-off & pick-up of customer purchases
  • Amplified sound is prohibited
  • May not allow other businesses to use fronting sidewalk or roadway (for free or otherwise) except for a restaurant with permission to do so
  • May conduct eligible activities from October 30 through December 31, 2020
  • Must suspend all outdoor activities while a DSNY Snow Alert is in effect

What sidewalk or street is eligible?

All sidewalks in New York City wider than 8’ may be utilized by the Open Storefronts program in line with siting criteria.

All streets participating in the Open Streets: Restaurants program may be utilized by the Open Storefronts program in line with siting criteria.

When can my establishment begin using outdoor sidewalk space?

Establishments seeking to utilize additional public sidewalk for business operations must submit an online form at nyc.gov/openstorefronts and may commence once submitted.

My business is located basement-level but is publicly accessible from the street. Can I participate in Open Storefronts?

It depends. If you’re a business that is involved in the sale of goods and/or services to the public, the entrance to the store is publicly accessible from the street, and the business frontage is only your business (i.e. not shared with other storefront business), you may participate in the Open Storefronts program, even if customers must descend stairs to enter your storefront. All siting criteria guidelines must still be followed.

When my business is closed, may I store and secure materials on the sidewalk?

No. All items and materials must be brought indoors when the business is closed. Items such as potted plants or benches may remain outside under existing rules (i.e. must be against the wall of the business or as close as possible).

My business has an existing stoop line stand, may I continue to use it?

Yes, if you have an existing stoop line stand license. Businesses may continue to use their stoop line stands under the terms and conditions of which their stoop line stand was issued. Stoop line stands do not need to be deconstructed and can remain in place when the business is closed.

The storefront next to my business is vacant, may I place materials or display merchandise in front of the neighboring storefront?

No. Businesses may only use the sidewalk directly in front of their business, and cannot extend past the width of their storefront.

Is there an option in Open Storefronts to use the curbside parking lane?

The Open Storefronts program does not allow for roadway use. However, if a business is located on a designated Open Streets: Restaurants corridor, the business will have the option to use the sidewalk and/or roadway during the hours of the Open Streets: Restaurants program.

Is there a fee to apply to Open Storefronts?

The City does not charge any fees to apply to the program.

Do I need insurance?

The City recommends you consult your insurance broker to make sure you have the appropriate coverage.

What are the daily hours of operation?

Open Storefronts may be in use:

  • Mondays-Saturdays: 8am-11pm
  • Sundays: 10am-11pm

However, businesses may only use the sidewalk during business hours.

My business opens earlier and/or stays open later than the permitted hours of operation for Open Storefronts. May I continue to use the outdoor space while my business is open?

Businesses may only use the sidewalk during the business’s hours of operation. If business hours are earlier and/or later than the hours permitted for Open Storefronts, then outdoor use must end by the permitted time. Open Storefronts hours are from 8am to 11pm on Monday through Saturday, and 10am to 11pm on Sunday.

For example, if a business opens at 9am on Sunday, the business may only use outdoor space starting at 10am. Conversely, if a business closes at 10pm, the business must discontinue use of the sidewalk at that time of close of business.

My business is closed as a part of the State’s COVID Cluster Initiative. May I still operate outdoors as apart of Open Storefronts?

No, if your business is considered non-essential. Essential businesses may continue to participate in Open Storefronts. Business must follow the guidelines set by NY State and DOHMH.

What is the duration of Open Storefronts program?

Use of the sidewalk for permitted activities will commence October 30, 2020 and will last through December 31, 2020.

What if something is already installed on the sidewalk in front of my establishment, such as a bike corral or Citi Bike station?

The City will not remove nor relocate street furniture. Additionally, the establishment cannot remove any City property already installed on the sidewalk in front of their establishment. Such removal by the establishment may result in a fine.

Can I add lighting to the sidewalk in front of my business?

Yes, provided lighting is not blinding to passing traffic and complies with NYC Fire Department Open Flame and other applicable Fire Codes, and Department of Building’s (DOB) Electrical Codes relating to outdoor wiring. Additionally, NYC street light wiring may not be used to connect any external power or lighting source.

Can I set up merchandise or materials on both sides of my very wide sidewalk as long as there is an eight foot (8’) pedestrian pathway between?

No, you may only utilize the sidewalk space alongside your storefront up to five feet (5') from the property line. Eight feet (8’) is the MINIMUM requirement for a pedestrian pathway.

Can I place merchandise or materials on the sidewalk adjacent to the curb in the ‘amenity zone’?

No, items and merchandise are only permitted directly adjacent to the building façade provided materials are no more than five feet (5') away from the property line and an eight foot (8’) clear path to the curb is maintained.

My ground floor business has two frontages, as it is on the corner or is an L-shaped store, how do I indicate Total Length (ft)* and Total Width (ft)* of outdoor retail dimensions on the Open Storefronts application?

Add the length of both sides to answer Total Length (ft)*. Your width should be the same on either sides, so to answer Total Width (ft), use that footage.

I already have access to outdoor retail space, do I need to apply?

Types of outdoor retail space which do not require NYC DOT approvals include:

  • Privately owned outdoor space such as front yards, side yards, rear yards or courtyards
  • Private parking lots

Resources

Contact

For help completing the application please call the SBS Hotline: 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692). NYC launched this small business hotline to answer the most pressing questions of small business owners as they prepare to re-open. Small Business Advocates and Compliance Advisors will monitor the hotline and have been equipped with the latest guidelines and regulations to share with business owners.

NYC will rely on each establishment's compliance with all of these terms and conditions and all applicable guidance. If you want to report an issue, concern or violation about an Open Storefronts, please contact NYC311.

If you have questions or concerns about the Open Storefronts program, please contact NYC DOT online.